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Blackstone's F&R acquisition to miss closure target

Blackstone will likely miss its 1 July target for completing its $20 billion acquisition of a majority stake in Thomson Reuters' terminals and data business.

Reuters quoted sources familiar with the matter saying the acquisition of a majority stake in the financial and risk (F&R) division by the world’s largest private equity firm is expected to close in late summer as regulatory requirements make the earlier completion target look increasingly unlikely.

The acquisition is now expected to close in September, most likely at the end of the month, which is also the end of the third quarter, several sources told Reuters.

“It is likely to slip to September. It is easier to close at the end of the quarter when the numbers come through,” a senior source said.

A deadline of the end of July has been set for EU approvals and the deal could close earlier if it gets swift regulatory approval, the sources said.

Thomson Reuters said on 2 May that the acquisition is expected to close in the second half of the year and is subject to specified regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. The company will report its first-quarter earnings on 11 May.

Blackstone announced on 30 January that it is buying a 55 per cent stake in Thomson Reuters’ F&R unit.

A $13.5 billion-equivalent loan and bond financing backing the acquisition is expected to launch in early September, after the market reconvenes after the August summer holiday.

“The debt deal will come in early September. They will get back from holiday, do a roadshow then launch,” the senior source said.

The deal, which is being led by banks JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup, is the biggest buyout financing since the 2008 financial crisis.

Reuters said Thomson Reuters and the three banks declined to comment, and Blackstone was not immediately available to comment. ■